Biz buzz // Twin Town Guitars celebrates solar installation

CARAG — Twin Town Guitars is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year at 3400 Lyndale Ave. S., and it is also toasting its long-awaited solar panel installation. 

“Theoretically, this will offset 100 percent of our energy needs, or very close to it,” said owner Andrew Bell. 

Twin Town joins a few other area businesses with solar power, such as Pat’s Tap at 3510 Nicollet Ave. and Quality Coaches at 20 W. 38th St. 

“We hope you’ll be seeing way more Minnesota panels,” Bell said. 

Bell said the smarter operation will help Twin Town stay in business for many years to come. 

“My wife and I personally never thought we’d be looking at this place 15 years later,” he said. He credited the success to a loyal following and an excellent crew. 

“They basically make the place,” Bell said. “We’ve been able to reinvent ourselves three or four times over.”

Twin Town made many changes to compound its energy savings. The staff swapped out incandescent lights for compact LEDs, added timers to save electricity, set idling computers in hibernation mode and installed a new roof.

Town Hall Tap owners planning another restaurant

FIELD — The owners of Town Hall Tap are working to purchase Skylane Bowling to build an additional site at 5019 34th Ave. S. 

“It will be a really relaxing space, despite being a bowling alley,” said Pete Rifakes, co-owner of Town Hall Tap. “It will be something you have come to expect from Town Hall.”

Town Hall Tap was a hit when it opened two years ago at 48th & Chicago. Patrons encountered a waiting list for a table nearly every night of the week for deep-fried brie curds, slow-cooked Cuban sandwiches and beer flights partially brewed from three casks onsite. The restaurant generated creative new brews like The Parkway Java Porter, which incorporates cold press coffee roasted across the street at Sovereign Grounds.

The new restaurant would not feature an onsite brewery, however. 

“Our goal is to have bowling, a full-service restaurant and full-service bar,” Rifakes said. 

The owners haven’t yet closed on the sale, and menu details aren’t determined.

Rifakes is currently estimating costs to decide the extent of renovations to the Skylane buildings. He said he has been searching for a new Town Hall location. 

“We love the neighborhood over there,” he said. “And I love to bowl as well.”

New grocery planned for 48th & Chicago 

NORTHROP — The husband-and-wife owners of Sovereign Grounds, a coffee shop known for offering a roomful of toys to winter-weary parents, hope to open a grocery next door on the corner of 48th & Chicago. 

“Sovereign Goods” would be similar in format to Guse Green Grocer at 46th & Bryant, said Owner Hakan Sezer. 

He said his customers are excited about the news.

“Everybody has wanted a grocery store or a co-op for many years,” he said. “Every time there is a vacancy, people tell me they hope a co-op can come in.”

The store would replace Dick’s Metro Carpet at 809 E. 48th St., selling green vegetables and organic food. 

“My wife really wanted to have that,” Sezer said. 

He envisions a store with wooden shelves that match the feel of homes in the area, selling produce and goods like olive oil, hummus and other products with a Mediterranean slant. 

New shoe store lined up for Hennepin 

EAST ISLES — Fluevog Shoes is moving next to the Uptown Theatre on Hennepin Avenue. 

The Canadian company expects to open its 16th store sometime this year in the Landmark Theatre building. 

Fluevog shoes are made of eco-friendly leather — some of them are dyed and tanned using vegetables instead of heavy metals, and others are Vegan, meaning they are animal-free and made of other synthetic or natural materials. 

The company says its shoes have graced the feet of celebrities like Madonna and Jack White, and it was recently named one of the world’s most innovative companies in the fashion industry by the business magazine Fast Company. 

The company’s namesake is John Fluevog of Vancouver, and it’s been around since 1970. A company spokesman noted that Fluevog’s grandfather originally settled in Minnesota, so the Uptown store is a bit of a homecoming for the brand. 

New music studio opening for children 

LINDEN HILLS — After teaching music at preschools for 15 years, an instructor is opening her own studio at 4109 France Ave. S. 

The Music Discovery Program was created by Elizabeth Erickson, a classically-trained pianist and jazz musician. She previously spent nine years teaching at Lake Harriet United Methodist Preschool.

“I’m not teaching by-the-book,” she said. “My own musicianship goes into it.”

Erickson’s classes have three levels with age ranges from two-and-a-half through kindergarten. She said children can learn a great deal of content in her courses. 

“Kids that come through the program in two years are really ready for private lessons,” she said. “They can have a lot of fun and learn a lot at the same time.”

Erickson also teaches private lessons. For more information, call 825-1175.

The Lynn on Bryant launches Kickstarter campaign 

LYNNHURST — The Lynn on Bryant, the restaurant opening this fall in the Patina building at 5003 Bryant Ave. S., has launched a campaign on the Kickstarter website to help fund construction. 

“We’re excited and eager to open our doors to our neighbors in the Lynnhurst neighborhood,” Chef Peter Ireland said in an email. “But we need the community’s help to meet our budget goals for construction, equipment and finishes.”

Contributors can choose from benefit packages including a dinner for two, a bundle of pastries or the “Easy Morning Golden Ticket,” which is a free 12 oz. coffee or tea every day for an entire year. 

Wagners unveils ‘Big Red Wagon’

ARMATAGE — Wagners is selling cucumbers, melons and mums out of an old wagon on the edge of its property at 6024 Penn Ave. S. 

“This is the first year we’ve tried it,” said Nola Wagner, president of Wagner Greenhouses. 

Wagners is a fifth-generation company that has operated off Penn for the past 100 years. 

All of the produce sold at the “Big Red Wagon” is Minnesota-grown. It operates Wednesday thru Friday from noon­-7 p.m. 

Butter raising funds for move

KINGFIELD — Another shop launching a Kickstarter campaign is Butter, which is moving in early October from 3544 Grand Ave. to 3700 Nicollet Ave. 

“We’re moving no matter what,” said Ben Swenson-Klatt, a barista. “We want to raise a little bit more money for the move.”

If Butter raises the $15,000 they’re targeting, the money would help pay for new tables sourced from Wood From The Hood, a company that mills urban trees. 

Staff also hope to install an ice cream machine using additional funds.

Renovated Uptown Theatre opens 

EAST ISLES — The Uptown Theatre reopened on Sept. 14, featuring a one-week show of “Sleepwalk With Me.”

Comedian Mike Birbiglia wrote, directed and starred in the semi-autobiographical story of a struggling standup comedian avoiding commitment with his longtime girlfriend. The film was co-written and produced by Ira Glass of “This American Life.”

Gallery benefits Lyndale neighborhood

LYNDALE — Regla de Oro gallery has a new presence in the Lyndale Community Center at 3537 Nicollet Ave. 

Regla de Oro (Spanish for “Golden Rule”) curates gallery shows at the center that rotate every few months. 

“We focus on artists that are really local,” said gallery owner Jessica Smith. “We’ve had a really good response; people love it.”

A portion of proceeds from art sales at the center benefit the Lyndale Neighborhood Association. 

Regla de Oro works with about two dozen different artists and operates a certified fair-trade gift store at 3007 Lyndale Ave. 

All of its artist receptions combine as a benefit for a nonprofit organization, typically groups dedicated to social justice or arts education.

Sweets Bakeshop rebrands as Cupcake Caramel 

TANGLETOWN — Sweets Bakeshop at 4747 Nicollet Ave. now goes by the name Cupcake Caramel.

With so many bakeries carrying the name “sweet” in their brands, the bakery wanted to make sure patrons single out their signature cupcakes, said staff member Anne Doucot. 

The bakery also tweaked and changed a few recipes, aiming for a “girly, glamorous feel,” she said. 

The Minnesot’in is “very much comfort food,” according to Doucot, and it entails a caramel corn cake topped with salted caramel buttercream and homemade caramel. 

Warners’ Stellian store celebrating 25th anniversary

WINDOM — Warners’ Stellian is inviting the community to its 25th anniversary party for its outlet store at 54th & Nicollet on Sept. 22. 

The party runs from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. There will be Peace Coffee, food catered by Broders’, a chance to win prizes and a donation presented to the Joyce Uptown Food Shelf in partnership with the Southwest Journal’s new fundraising campaign for the food shelf.

The outlet store at 5462 Nicollet Ave. S. was the family-owned appliance retailer’s second location when it opened. Now the company has several stores across the state. The Nicollet store is the only urban location.

Warners’ Stellian got its start more than 50 years ago when Jim Warner bought Stellian’s appliance store in St. Paul after many years working there. He added his name to the business. Now four of his children manage the company and 10 third-generation Warners are involved in the business.

Warner said his children took an interest in the family business without prodding on his part. He also credits them with the company’s tremendous growth since its early days.

“There was no special plan on my part,” he said. “It just kind of happened as they got to maturity and took an interest in the company. There was always a place for them. Then they grew from there.”

He said his children are more aggressive about business strategies than he was and he is proud of their accomplishments.

“You got to grow or you go,” he said. 

Warners’ Stellian President Jeff Warner said his father has passed on many important lessons, including there’s “no excuse for not giving your customer your best.”

He credits the Windom store with helping fuel the company’s growth. Until the Edina location openened, it was one the highest performing stores.

He sees the upcoming anniversary party as a chance to say thank you. 

“The number one thing is that we are so honored to be part of the neighborhood,” he said. “We’re very grateful for how the neighborhood has responded to us.” 

Julie Warner, 26, is one of third-generation employees. She’s the marketing manager and serves on the advisory board for the Family Business Center at the University of St. Thomas.

“I used to wonder why people didn’t seem to care as much at my other jobs as my former coworkers from our stores. Sometimes the easiest explanation is the best one. Family-run businesses just breed a culture of unrivaled passion,” she said. “I was happy to return to [the company] to find that the willingness to work really, really hard to please people and continue Grandpa’s legacy was still firmly in place.”


Little Tijuana Bar & Cafe has reopened at 26th & Nicollet. It has undergone a major remodel and how has a full-service bar, new restrooms, new kitchen and an updated main dining room.

Sarah McKenzie contributed to this report.